More trees


It is autumn, after all. Trees deserve several mentions. I went for a walk yesterday with Ray and Harvey, on a lovely autumn afternoon up through Ormiston Woods to find the yew tree. Ray has lived in East Lothian even longer than I have and, just as I had never seen the twisted pines until recently, Ray had never seen the Ormiston yew. Still, what’s 20 years or so in the life of this remarkable tree, which could be 1000 years old? It is recorded as a landmark as early as 1474 and John Knox preached in its interior at the start of the Reformation. It was presumably planted in the grounds of the original parish kirk, St Giles, which started life at Ormiston Hall rather than in the village of Ormiston. The yew now seems to have two main trunks with the layered branches creating a cathedral-like space. Some snow and storm damage last winter to adjacent trees has partly opened up one side of the yew, letting in far more light than previously.

It is not easy to find unless you know where it is – follow the track south from the main road, keeping to the left all the way, past a ruined doorway from the old church, until you reach a fence on the right with a grassy path on its south side. The yew is at the end of this path, on the north side of a grassy space. You can see from the photograph that it looks like a hedge rather than a tree from the outside – go in through the small entrance and you’ll find another world and a little piece of living history.

4 thoughts on “More trees

  1. The yew was my first thought when I read your initial trees post.
    IMHO it could well be more that 1000 if it was a landmark by the 1400s.
    If I’m sending people for the first time, and if they are on bikes or have a car full of toddlers, I suggest they head west on the a6093 and then up the B6371, signposted West Byres Cemetery. Past the cememtery and park at the Lodge Gates about 1/4 mile beyond. Take the path up through the wood just past the parked cars – a lovely walk with kids – and then you’re in the Yew Tree Field. You can loop round from there out of the wood onto the track and back to your car – a neat little walk with smaller children or if you have happened to – ahem – collected a bit of fire wood*…
    *Not recommending this at all, but I can’t stop my mother from doing it!

  2. wow I didn’t know Yew trees did that! BIG plants are just as fascinating as the tiny ones; wish i’d studied trees a bit better in college- the hardwood decidous trees in Maryland just didnt seem interesting at the time and once I got among the banyons, palms, and baobobs I was well into the cryptogams! hope you have some more interesting trees in your pocket?! xx

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